Contrary to some who believe otherwise, race, sports and politics are always intertwined. And despite his half-hearted apology, the recent tweet on NBA players by Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) is another example of this.
“Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/possible exception of increase in streetcrime,” reads Garofalo’s infamous March 9 tweet. Almost immediately the five-term state legislator’s five minutes of national fame time clock started ticking as “hundreds of negative comments and more than 1,000 retweets” shot into social media airspace like July fireworks.
Twitter isn’t a one-on-one conversation or a vehicle through which you can talk to yourself, but instead a one-to-millions chit-chat. Comedian Sinbad was among those who tweeted back protesting against Garofalo’s comments. Someone called The Abstract Poet wrote, “GOP, this is why Black People overall don’t like you.”
“I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized,” said Garofalo in a March 10 press statement.
The MSR did contact him, offering the lawmaker the opportunity to fully explain himself to our readers, to the Black community, on what prompted him to broadly paintbrush three-fourths of the league players who are Black with his stereotypical tweet. Contributing Writer Isaac Peterson III told me last week that the legislator, through his office, said he won’t talk about the subject anymore.
If he had, our leading question to Garofalo would be: What do you really think about Black folk? Does your cultural conditioning play a leading role in your decision-making when voting against policies and programs that affect Blacks and other people of color?
His tweet smacks of a time back in the 1970s when people saw the NBA as nothing but a bunch of drug users. Now, if we apply Garofalo’s reasoning: NBA + Black players = street crime. How many people in 2014 believe this as well?
The Farmington legislator claims he was only joking. If this is true, then why didn’t he joke about NHL players, who are 70 percent White, on their penchant for fighting? Or about NASCAR drivers, who are mainly White, to the effect that if they weren’t driving in circles for a living they would be hauling moonshine across state lines?
“It is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups,” said Garofalo in his apology. “Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize.” However, any suggestions from him or anyone else that his comments weren’t racial are disingenuous at best, and just plain naïve at worst.
When you use stereotypes to make a point, it is racial. It also shows your true feelings about that said group. Garofalo claims that he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, but evidently at least his fingers and thumbs do. His latest tweet gave us a clear picture of his culturally conditioned mentality.
Is he jealous of Black NBAers among whom even the lowest paid players make more than he? Instead of throwing out stereotypes, why didn’t he tweet about how he will propose bills in St. Paul on improving the quality of life for all Minnesotans?
“Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize,” claims Garofalo, whose “sarcastic” tweet also was a hit among those who listen to right-wing radio. A local station’s “question of the day” found that 45 percent didn’t think Garofalo’s tweet about the NBA was racist.
Whenever folk like Garofalo act surprised by the backlash they receive after they say or tweet something insensitive, especially about individual members of an ethnic group or the ethnic group itself, their apologies usually show Boris Badanov stupidity or ignorance at best, and disingenuousness at worst.
Information from various sources was used in this column.